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Family 411: Smartphone Dangers

We've all heard the warnings about watching our kids on the computer, but now those computers are in their pockets.

"They can change the operational software. They can change or hide what they're doing," said Dr. Art Jipson, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology.

Candace Vandawiele's 13-year old daughter Anna uses her smartphone to connect with friends.

"She texts and a little bit of Instagram," said Vandawiele.

Lots of kids connect on app's like Instagram, along with Facebook, Snap Chat, Skout and countless other chat apps. There's a lot of information being shared when people think they have privacy.

Criminal experts say young people, and even parents, don't always fully understand how easily they can reveal their identity and location. Child predators and criminals have the ability to use random chat apps to geolocate their targets. 

Internet Security Firm McAfee died a recent survey of kids, and more than half said their parents know only some of what they do online.  About a quarter said their parents don't have time to check.

You can turn off location services on the phone or the apps in its Privacy settings. Click on each app to see if its accessing the phone, info or pictures. The free app Lookout will warn you about security risks, tell you how to improve security settings, and even tell you which apps are tracking and revealing your location.

And don't forget to talk to your kids. Experts say communication is better than any software. Experts also say this generation of children thinks it's completely natural to share everything about their lives online. Make sure to talk with your kids about what's appropriate.


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